Dear South East Governors,
According to the Holy Book, there is a time for everything under heaven – “A time to be silent and a time to speak” (Eccl 3:7b). I feel that this isn’t time to keep quiet, but time to speak. I was constrained to write you this open letter after carefully watching your salience over the ugly ongoing massacre and wanton destruction of life and property in Orlu –Imo State. Many of us, Igbo sons and daughters across Europe, America, Canada and elsewhere are worried over your silence.
When I first read, “In the end, we will remember not the words of our enemies, but the silence of our friends” – Martin Luther King Jr., I believed it to mean that it is hurtful when your friends do not stick up for you. To better understand the quote, I had to do some research on Martin Luther King Jr. This quote was said at a speech in 1965 when Dr. King was discussing how many Americans did not stand up against the discrimination of black people and their civil rights. This research helped me realize that this quote could be interpreted to a much deeper and emotional level.
I now feel the quote, “In the end, we will remember not the words of our enemies, but the silence of our friends” – Martin Luther King Jr., means that comments from your enemies may hurt; however, the hurt from friends not standing by and supporting you is forever remembered. The hateful things your enemies may say about you may hurt at the time, but you will eventually forget the person along with what they said. If your friends are silent when you need their help and support that is a hurt that you can’t forget. It isn’t always what bad people do that lasts; it’s also what the good people fail to do.
I really related to this quote when I put it into perspective with my own life. I’ll be honest, I don’t really care or listen to what non-friends have to say, but I do know when my friends aren’t saying anything. I want to be the best possible friend to the friends I have and will gain in the future. That means that I should support my friends even when situations get tough, even if that means it’s not popular. True friends shouldn’t care about their image or going along with the collective opinion of others; true friends stay by your side during both good and bad times.
This quote also inspired me to think about friendship and silence a little differently. I also feel that telling people what they want to hear instead of what they need to hear is in a way being silent. Sometimes being open and honest may not always be really good in all situations because the truth can hurt.
However, just as you should stick up and speak out for your friends, you should also have the confidence to let your friends know when you think they are wrong. A good friend should never encourage you to be silent or look for false praise. I feel this quote had a powerful impact on history.
Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was correct to say this quote in a speech in 1965 discussing civil rights. This was a time when a change needed to be made. This was not a time for silence. It was a time to come together, SPEAK OUT, and make that change for equality. I agree with the quote, “In the end, we will remember not the words of our enemies, but the silence of our friends” -Martin Luther King Jr. It revealed to me that I would never want my friends to feel wounded or betrayed by my failure to speak up to help them against enemies who ultimately do not really matter. I’m hopeful that the thoughts in my mind and heart will always reach my lips in the support of the endeavours of my friends.
Thanks for your attention.
Chief Ambassador (Dr) Olugu Ukpai
(Ifunmini 1 of Ohafia – Ambassador in the Diaspora at Large)